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Rick Sutcliffe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rick Sutcliffe
Rick Sutcliffe 2014 (cropped).jpg
Born: (1956-06-21) June 21, 1956 (age 62)
Independence, Missouri
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 29, 1976, for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
July 22, 1994, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
Win–loss record171–139
Earned run average4.08
Career highlights and awards

Richard Lee Sutcliffe (born June 21, 1956), nicknamed "The Red Baron" is an American former Major League Baseball pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and the St. Louis Cardinals between 1976 and 1994. Sutcliffe is currently a broadcaster for ESPN.

A right-hander, Sutcliffe was a three-time All-Star. He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1979 and the National League Cy Young Award in 1984.

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  • ✪ Andrew Belleson Catches Up With Former Cubs Pitcher Rick Sutcliffe
  • ✪ Rick Sutcliffe Drunk
  • ✪ CHC@PIT: Sutcliffe seals it, Cubs clinch 1984 NL East
  • ✪ 1984 NLCS Gm1: Sutcliffe helps his own cause
  • ✪ ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe on the Perils of Partying with Bill Murray | The Dan Patrick Show | 10/29/18


- [Belleson] Today's guest is a three-time all-star and former Rookie of the Year. He was an 18-year big leaguer and now you might know him as a color commentator for ESPN. Today, we catch up with former Cub Rick Sutcliffe. ♪ [music] ♪ So, you had a great, long, playing career. Did you ever, while you were playing, think about what was going to happen when you were done or what you wanted to do when you were done? - [Sutcliffe] No. You know, Andrew, I think, I think everybody hopes to play forever. Um, you really don't ever think about it ending. And I don't know that my playing career actually ended when I had it planned. Um, if you remember, in 1994, the players went on strike. I was a part of every work stoppage that they ever had in baseball leading up to that. I believed in every one of them leading up to that. - Which was '94 and then prior was? - Uh, '81. Um, uh, back in '75 or '76, something like that. There were a lot of breaks in between that were important as far as free agency, and arbitration, and, a minor league guy who, say, was stuck behind Ryne Sandberg at second base. In the Cubs system, he needs to eventually go somewhere else where he can play. So, anyway, um, I did not. But when the players went on strike in '94, I was really upset with the players association, uh, with a lot of, uh, my, uh, contemporaries. And I had a two-year deal with the Texas Rangers to play in '95 and '96 and I walked away from it. When spring training didn't start on time in '95, that's when I decided to be a full-time dad. - You started broadcasting -- we were just talking about this a little bit before -- '98? - I think so. - With San Diego? - Yeah. Yeah. - And you've been with ESPN since then as well? - I have, right. - Right? - Yeah. Kind of a funny story, Andrew, with that. Um, I wanted to give something back to baseball and I took '95 off, '96 I wanted to be the rookie league pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs. I was told by the front office that that job wasn't available. Kind of shocked or whatever, but I had gotten an offer to be the big league pitching coach for the San Diego Padres. Well, I didn't want to do anything full time, but, um, they offered me the job in Idaho Falls, Idaho. And I loaded my wife, and daughter, and our horses, and our dogs and we drove to Idaho Falls. And I had so much fun up there in '96 that I went back again in '97. It's the short season. It's only a couple of months. - Yeah. - Beautiful weather, beautiful part of the country. Uh, we enjoyed it. And I, I don't know that I ever had more fun with a uniform on than I did then, knowing that most of those guys aren't going to even play another year. - Yeah. - But knowing I had an opportunity to change their lives and maybe redirect them in, in, uh, the direction that their lives were probably going to go. And that's when the broadcasting thing started. The Padres did a weekend series in Monterrey, Mexico. - Okay. - You might remember that. Fernando Valenzuela pitched. I mean, it was a big deal. - Okay. - For some reason, they, they decided they wanted to make it big and they thought that I would do that. So, they forced me to broadcast. I, there was no way in the world I wanted to do that. But by doing that, ESPN saw it. And later on in '97, that winter, ESPN asked me to do a division series on radio. Uh, I didn't want to do it, but, again, they said we need the exposure. Uh, I was blessed to start my broadcasting career with a guy, a Hall of Famer named Ernie Harwell, who we'll all remember in Detroit, uh, maybe the nicest human being I ever met in my life. And I thought, "Wow." That, that was actually fun and I didn't expect that broadcasting would be that. - Did you not enjoy it at first? Is that why you didn't really want to do it, or was it just something, something else? - I… Andrew, I don't like to do anything that I don't feel prepared to do. And I had no background of that. I barely made it through high school. You know, I had no training. Um, you know, I was the guy that, "Y'all fixing to warsh your clothes later on?" I mean, there was a lot of my language that I knew our thought wouldn't go over very well, but come to find out, uh, ESPN embraced that. They told me it was not the "Warshington" Nationals, uh, it was Washington. So, uh, that was one thing they asked me to clean up a little bit. But, you know, it, it started out as an opportunity to stay connected to the game that I love, but with ESPN, it eventually led into loving the people that I work with. And a lot of those guys, uh, David Ross, Jon Sciambi, Chris Berman, a lot of those guys have become my best friends. - Talk a little bit about David Ross, working with him. We talked a minute ago. I think he does a phenomenal job. He tipped his cap to you to say how comfortable you made him feel as he transitioned to the booth. When, when you're doing a game… And my family is huge fans of yours on the air. You seem like you're enjoying yourself. That comes through so much. I mean, it's, you're so comfortable. I mean, it just, it's so good. - You know, it means a lot that you say that. Um, but if you actually took a close look at me when that light comes on for the open, uh, you don't want to shake my hands cause they're sweaty and I probably got a little pit going on underneath me there. I get that over with and then you're off and running because it's just basically sitting there talking baseball with a couple of guys that you like. Um, love working-- love everything about David Ross. You know, he wrote the book on <i>Teammate.</i> There's never been a better teammate than him, but I felt like when he came into the booth, it was my job as it was when I worked with Tony Gwynn, when I worked with Aaron Boone, uh, Mike Piazza. It's my job to kind of maybe, uh, help them condense what they're trying to say and, and, and prepare for, uh, to maybe help them with some of the mistakes that I made. My favorite David Ross story of all, uh, we're in Boston and I don't know what he had to eat or drink that day, but we go into extra innings and he gets up in the top of the tenth to go pee for the fourth time. And when he comes back, you know, we're on the air, you know how it is. Jon Sciambi's talking, he sneaks into his chair, he sits down, he real quietly grabs a headset and puts it on. Well, I raised my finger to Jon Sciambi that I got something to say and I go, "Jon, that was a, that was a great, that was a great statement." I go, "David, what do you think?" He, of course, had no idea and he lights up bright red and he looks at me, he goes… On camera, he goes, "I was in the bathroom." And we were laughing. I go, "The fourth time." And he goes, "I didn't know I was working with two camels." And I'm telling you, it went, it went viral on Twitter and, and Sports Center... Everybody played that back and forth. And I think, you know, I think when people watch a game along with hoping the game's good, I think, you know, they also look for some entertainment and, uh, that was the night we were able to provide some of that. - But you work with Jon Sciambi a lot on ESPN and you guys have a great chemistry. I mean, you-u that takes time to build. That doesn't just happen, does it? - You're exactly right. I mean, there's a trust there. You know, where a guy can say some things that maybe another guy couldn't because there's a love there. And right off the bat I, I felt that with Boog. It was really interesting when we started working, you know, you have your go-to guys, you have your players that you know and that will give you information, that trust you. - Mm-hmm. - You have other coaches that maybe you played with or against. And it was really cool that my go-to guys were the same guys that Jon Sciambi was going to. We have a lot of fun. We tease each other. Um, he was talking about IQs my first year and he said, "You know what?" He says, "The difference between you and me is like that of an elephant and an ant." He goes, "If we got in an IQ contest or whatever," he said, he said, "You'd be lucky to get a ribbon for participation." He said that on the air. And I mean, he was probably right, but, you know, not everybody could, could get away with that. - Yeah. - But I think, I think maybe if people listened to us for a little bit longer than they might somebody else, I, I think it's that fact that, you know, maybe if you and I were, were sitting at home watching the game, we hope to come across as maybe doing the same thing we'd be doing. - Yeah. And it does. You said a little while ago, Harry Caray told you that you'd get into broadcasting at some point. - He did. - You didn't believe him? - He did. I did not believe him. He was interviewing me, uh, and in 1994, my last year, a pregame thing, and he goes, "I don't know how much longer you're going to play, but," he goes, "You're going to be a terrific broadcaster." And I just laughed at him like, "Harry, that's the last thing in the world I would ever do." And you know, I think part of the reason I was hesitant to that was, you know, from time to time, the media would take a cheap shot at you that really wasn't true. And, and you know, it would kind of bother you a little bit and you'd kind of look at the person a little different. And I just, I didn't want to be looked at as that. And, you know, to begin with, there were some people that, that tried to get me to be more critical. I will criticize you if you embarrass yourself. If you disrespect the game, I'm going to hammer you. And I've had some conflicts where guys wanted to talk about things. For the most part, I'm, I'm always available. I will be in both clubhouses before the game if there's anything I've done or said, uh, I'm, I'm available to talk it out. But there's just, there's so many good stories in the game that as you know, if you prepare yourself, if you're fully prepared to maybe do 18 innings of baseball, there's plenty of good stories that you can tell without being critical of anybody. - That's true. That's true. And you're very fair. I mean, sometimes, I mean, sometimes you're going to say something that's true and fair and some people might not… They might take offense to it, might not like to hear it, but it's, it's true. - You know, it was a guy that hit a home run. We were down in Texas and the score is 11 to 1. The Rangers were losing. And a guy for Texas, I can't even think of his name, uh, hit a home run. And I mean, he stood there and watched it. It's 11 to 2. It's in the eighth inning. I lost my mind. I mean, I said, "What are you doing? Get going." And as he went around second, he did the little trot and like, and I go, "He thinks he's Kurt Gibson now." That was the, the, a walk-off in, in, in the World Series. It's 11 to 2. I mean, I lost my mind. And, of course, you know, Sports Center, they're going to start off with… I mean, that was the first thing they hit with. Everybody was there and people said the guy wanted to fight me and all of that. And it, it, it wasn't a good decision for him. It didn't, it didn't go well for him. - My college roommate and I kind of started it, went to a small Division III college. We kind of started the sports broadcasting department there after we quit playing. And we were doing a football game once at school. I forget who they were playing. They were not a good program. I think they were 1 in 9 or 1 in 10. It was like 40 to 3 at the half. So, you can, you can only paint so, so swell of a picture if it's 40 to 3. And after that game, we got called in the athletic director's office that we needed to, to have a more positive spin on things. I said, "Well, if it, if it's, if it's a little closer than 40 to 3 at a half, maybe, maybe we'll give you something better to work with..." - You do your job. Yeah. Yeah. - But what am I supposed to do? - Let's work together on this. - Right. - You know, it's funny, Andrew, you talk about that. And I think really the thing that might've got me started at ESPN was, uh, when I retired, um, in 1995 or '96, I don't remember which year it was. A lot of my friends in Kansas City wanted to come up for opening day at Wrigley and they wanted to sit in the bleachers. Well, Ryne Sandberg had come out of retirement to come back and play. So, we're at the game, we're having a great time, and afterwards we go over to Murphy's Bleachers bar and Bill Murray's there and all of our buddies were up there having a great time. And somebody said, "Hey, on Sports Center, they're talking about Wrigley Field and the Cubs." And we all come running in from the, the patio everything and we're watching it. And Dan Patrick goes, "Yeah, we're at Wrigley Field and two former Cubs on opening day," Ah, "Two former Chicago Cub greats return to Chicago." And they show Ryno getting, like, a base hit. Dan Patrick showed me in the bleachers with a beer about… Chugging a beer. And I'm telling you, everybody in the world called me. Everybody in the world saw that. But, you know, I think… I knew Dan Patrick. We were friends and I think him, I don't know, maybe showing that side of me of being a, you know, just like, just a fan more than anything else, I think that might've been part of the reason ESPN gave me a call a couple of years later. - That's cool. What's it mean for you after all these years? I mean, you're a legend here in Chicago. - Wow. Well, that's… - I mean, to come back and be embraced by all of these Cubs fans at a weekend like this every year. I mean, to, to walk across that stage, last night at opening ceremonies. I mean, that's… - Yeah. - That's a big deal. - Yeah, it is. And, and, you know, uh, Andrew, I've got to give John McDonough all the credit in the world for that, for making that connection between the player and the fan and lengthening the baseball season to, you know, the calendar year. I'll never forget. I think it was the winner of it in 1986, uh, John's idea was to have a Cub fan convention. Well, I wasn't going to leave my home in the middle of January. I mean, I'm, I'm with my family. I'm gone enough. Ryno wasn't going to leave his house in the weather in Arizona. John McDonough called me and we weren't going. We weren't going to go to the convention. And John had said that they hadn't even sold a ticket, hardly. I mean, nobody was going to come. A lot of organizations and other sports have tried it, and it, and it never worked. John said, "I need a big favor." And I would say, he said, "I need you to come to the convention." And finally talked me into it. I said, "I'll do it." And he goes, "Now I need you to talk Ryno into coming." I'm like, "Ryno... You're not going to talk Ryno into doing that." And I finally decided, "Okay." So, I called Ryno and I go, "Ryno, I'm telling you we're going to go to the convention." And he goes, "No, I'm not." I said, "Ryno, I didn't ask you. I'm telling you. We ride to the park every day. Okay? - Yeah. - You want a ride, you're going to come. Anyway, Ryno agreed to come and he was 90% of it, but the next day, the convention sold out. - Wow. - And, you know, I didn't realize what, what John McDonough's vision was. I didn't realize… I mean, I come back every year. It's so important to have that connection, to stay connected to the fans and the organization that gave me an opportunity to stay in the game that I love. - That's awesome. It's probably not the same as when you were playing, but you're around the game, in the booth, and you're at camp with the Cubs in spring training, no? - Yeah, yeah. - Being around the guys and, and, and coaching, and… I mean, that's, that's a cool role. - That's a great statement right there you made. And I'll tell you something that happened just this past spring. Um, seven years ago, when Theo took over, he called me and he asked me to come back. Uh, and I was thrilled to do it. Uh, I took a look at the minor league system, all the pitchers that were down there. And when I told him there might be two or three that could help us, I don't think even he realized it was that bad when he took over. But, obviously, he dug in and did the things that he did in Boston. He got everything turned around here. But just this past spring, I was walking out on the field. I was one of the first guys to the ballpark and I'm out on the grass getting ready to go in the dugout and I just hit my knees, man. I just hit my knees and I, I could not have been more thankful to God for giving me an opportunity to still put that uniform on. And so, I'm leaning against the batting cage and with Theo and Joe Maddon and they're thanking me for being there and I had spoke to the minor league guys earlier that day and thanks for this and that and I go, "Let me ask you something. You're thanking me. What if I put on eBay the opportunity to do what I'm getting the opportunity to do today?" Okay. I drive in, I park in the players lot. You know, my locker's right next to Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams. I get dressed in that uniform. I go have breakfast with Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. I go out on the field and I'm leaning on the batting cage next to Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein, and now I'm going to get to ride on the team bus to the game. I'm going to get to sit in the dugout, get to drink a beer after the game. What, what would that go for on eBay? - Phew. - And they all just started laughing like, you know, "You should be paying us." And, and, and, obviously, I, I would, I'd be happy to do that. But it really, it's just an opportunity for… I mean, the Cubs and Harry Caray created me. Harry Caray's the one that tagged me with the Red Baron. I don't care what I had done leading up to that, I won a Rookie of the Year, I won an ERA title, I won 18 games and an All-star. I might get five fan letters a week. I was getting like 150 a day when Harry Caray all of a sudden gave you a nickname and start talking about how he liked you. The Cubs created anything. The Cubs are the reason ESPN hired me. Without what happened in Chicago and the popularity of, of that team, uh, I never would have gotten a job in baseball after baseball. - When you're in camp with the Cubs in Mesa, you're working with minor league players and, and you said even when you started doing so after you, after you retired, uh, with San Diego, giving back, it just makes you feel good. When, when Rick Sutcliffe comes up to a young pitcher and talks, they listen. I mean, that's, that's. - Yeah. You know, you're, the back of my bubblegum card usually gets me in the door. Um, but you better have something to say once you get there. - Yeah. - And I, I really think that, you know, those two years in rookie ball were, um, basically given a piece of clay and you're supposed to help form that, you know. And you know, you've got to let a guy fail first. I mean, if they continue to dominate, you know, let the freaks freak. Don't, don't change anything, even though you don't… You know, I was a wrapper and the Dodgers tried to change me every year in the minor leagues… - Did they? - And they finally just gave up and I wasn't able to, to quit that. So, um, let the freaks freak, that kind of thing. - Yeah, yeah. - My role really is, is, Andrew, more from the neck up. You know, when Theo came over here, these guys are so smart and they have machines and they have data that nobody else has. And, you know, when you put the pitcher in the lab and they break down his mechanics and everything, I let other people do that. I'm more about, about confidence. I'm more about, "What were you thinking?" I was told by my very first big league pitching coach Red Adams, "There's no, no such thing as the wrong pitch. What was your thought process on that pitch? Were you going to throw an 0-2 breaking ball? Were you just going to throw it to get it over? Are you going to try to get him to chase? You're going to try to hit a better spot?" Um, and I think that helps free people up to reinforce what a lot of the minor league coaches are telling these guys. Sometimes I just come down, "Man," I'd say, "You're going to be in the big leagues in a hurry." Well, I remember one time Don Drysdale told me that. And it went a long ways. I didn't actually ever believe I would make it to the big leagues until he told me that that day. And it wasn't, I don't know, four months later after my AA season that I got that call to come to Dodger Stadium. - I love what you said, the mental side of sports has always been so interesting to me. And baseball's such a mental game, I feel. I mean, any sport competitively, but to be in the right mindset, that's, it goes so far compared to… I mean, you had the physical skill set, you know, you knew what you were capable of, but upstairs, for the grind of a season like that, I mean, that, that's… To rely on a guy like you play 18 years, I mean, that's, that means so much to a younger player coming up, I would think. - Such a great point you make there. And, and the thing I think of is something that, um, I've talked with Ryne Sandberg a lot about. Why is he in Cooperstown and I'm not? Well, you hear me say on the air all the time, that, for me, he taught me that. Cal Ripken taught me that the best ability is availability. You want that guy like Ryno that 10, 12 years out of his career is going to play in 150 games. You want that guy on the mound that's going to start 30 to 35 games every year. I had a lot of those years, but I didn't have a complete career of that. You know, staying healthy is, is a big, big part of it. We both played ball and we both saw guys a lot more talented than us, but for one reason or another, they broke down. The only difference between me, and you, and anybody else out there listening is this thing right here. There's people out there that love baseball more than me, they were in better shape than me, but for some reason, God gave me a right arm that, uh, for 18 years in the big leagues, was able to most of the time go out there and take its turn. - I was just talking to a buddy of mine last night that I played with in high school and he, he went and played beyond but never made it. And he still to this day, it frustrates him because he was a hell of a good player. I mean, he was probably the best player I ever was on the field with. And other friends of ours did make it to pro ball, maybe not all the way up. And then he kind of still said, "I look at them and say, I'm happy for them, but why them and not… What happened?" You know what I mean? Not me, personally. I was never good enough and I knew that, but him. It's… That's tough, you know? - Well, you know, know what I think, uh… Let me see your right hand. - Yeah. I don't even deserve this, but I… - What I think of is, we all do. I've got, I've got the same ring. But what I think of when I see that and being so blessed, I'll never forget when… We won in '84. I pitched the clincher in Pittsburgh. We come back home, there's 100,000 people at the airport. The next day we walk into the clubhouse and, uh, Billy Williams, and Ernie Banks, and Fergie Jenkins, and, and all of these guys were in the clubhouse and this guy came up to me and he grabbed me by the shirt. And I mean, he had a good grip on me. I'm like, "What the-- Who?" I didn't even know who it was. And with tears in his eyes, he goes, "I'll never be able to thank you." But he goes, "What you've done..." We got to the playoffs for the first time in 39 years or something like that. It was Ron Santo. And he goes, "You did something for these fans that we couldn't get done and I'll never be able to repay you for that." And with tears in his eyes, he goes, "I just want to thank you." That ring right there, I was able to do the same thing to Theo Epstein. "You did what we weren't able to do." These fans deserve to celebrate a World Series championship. They had for a long, long time. And Theo Epstein and the guys that he brought over, yeah. Dallas Green, when he came over here, he brought Ryno, he brought Sarge, Bobby Dernier, Keith Moreland, Eckersley on down the line, myself. Yeah. He put together a team that had an opportunity to win it all. We didn't get it done. There's such a fine line. You see it every year, uh, on whether you win or whether you don't. The Cubs last year, whether they get into the playoffs or not? Come on, man. I mean, you score one run, you win one game or whatever, who knows. You might win it all. - Yeah. That's true. - But that's, that's a great part of… That's a great unknown about baseball and I think what makes any sport so terrific to be a part of. - When you got that ring, you opened that box after everything you gave to this organization, what, what was going… I mean, what did you feel? - I had no idea. I had no idea, but Theo wanted me to come up for something that went on during the winter. I remember what it might've been his charity event. And the next thing I know, I'm walking into a room with Kerry Wood and Eddie Vedder and I'm like, "Wow, it's worth the trip just, you know, being next to these two guys, you know?" And all of a sudden, you know, he made a big presentation out of it. "I want to thank you guys for all that you've given and all of the help that you've been." In a small, small way, Theo Epstein telling me that I was a part of winning a World Series championship... Uh, I, I can't tell you what that meant to me. - You, uh, you've got a great Twitter handle, which is fun to follow. You have, obviously, your broadcast career, but one of your jobs is being a grandpa. - Yeah. Yeah. - I always tease my wife, our parents like our daughter much more than they like us. That's fun for you. - It's the greatest thing in my life that has ever happened. Um, you know, Ryder's 6 years old right now and, you know, for my 60th birthday, a couple of years ago people said, "What are you going to do?" "I'm going to Legoland with Ryder. I mean, if you guys want to join us, that's where we're going to be." You know, you can go back and, and look at a tape from the World Series. Nike and Apple put together a big, uh, I don't know, it was a three-mile run or something like that. And there's 1,000 people out there. And they gave us some Nike stuff and an Apple Watch and they put Ryno and I up on stage. And we're up there talking, and everything, and we're making fun of each other. And all of a sudden, I see my daughter and son-in-law and my grandson, Ryder, running around. Well, the Cubs were great. They made a uniform for Ryder with his name on it. And number 40 on the back… - Cool. Yup. - … Which was, of course, my number. Well, Ryder's looking at me, he was like four at the time. And he's like, "Gramps, I'm here. I'm your guy." So, I get off the stage and I, right during the, the, the event, I walked down, and I pick Ryder up and I bring him up there and he's in my arm. We got the deal. And I go, "Ryder, say hello to everybody." In his little bitty voice, he goes, "Hello, everybody." And I go, "Hey, Chicago, what do you say?" And Ryder sings, ♪ Cubs are gonna win today. ♪ And I mean the roar was like it was when Ryno hit that home run off of Bruce Sutter in '84. I mean, the crowd went crazy. And for a kid that age to have known that, um, I just think it, it tells you how tight that, uh, my grandson and I are. - Is he playing ball, little league, now? - You know what? It was just three days ago. Uh, I was blessed to go to his first little league practice and uh, they were shocked. They were shocked. He's playing with older kids, but we've been playing since he was two. He can hit. - Yeah. - He doesn't really like fielding or throwing a whole lot, but he likes, he likes swinging the bat right now. So… - Is it T-ball or is it coach pitch? - It's going to be machine pitch. - Machine pitch. - Yeah. I don't, I, I, you know, I'm not encouraging him to play a lot, to do a lot. Uh, we play golf. We play football, we play soccer, we play basketball. I think that's a big thing in society today that needs to change. You know, there's, there's, there's coaches that are telling kids when they're, you know, a freshman in high school that, um, you know, "You need to, you need to get rid of everything else. This is the only sport you should play." Well, Andrew, I'll tell you, I'll be real honest with you. When my senior year was over with, the last day of school, if you had asked me what I was going to do, I was going to play quarterback at the University of Missouri. That's what I was going to do. What if that doesn't work? I'm going to play basketball at Kansas University. They've offered me a scholarship to go down there and do that. What if that doesn't work? Well, I guess maybe I'll play baseball. You know, I didn't know. I didn't know that the Dodgers were going to draft me in the first round. I didn't know that they were going to offer me a huge bonus that, that, that blew my grandpa -- I was raised by my grandparents. It blew all of us away. I still wanted to go play football until they said they would pay for my college and they would pay for my younger brother and sister's college. I didn't really have a choice. Uh, my dream of playing college football or maybe beyond that was over with and it… I don't know that I ever, ever would have seen the field in football anyway. Um, it was just, I think God guiding me in that direction to be a part of baseball. - You still get your baseball fix being in the booth? I know it's different than playing, but… - I think you'll understand this. Your career ended. Now, all of our careers do. Nothing will ever come close to playing. It just bothers me a lot when I watch the starting pitcher walk out there to the mountain and dig that little toe hole. I can do that. I could still dig that toe… I couldn't go do anything after that. Um, but I miss that. I miss that a lot. Um, you know, I think that's why I wanted to coach because even when I was in rookie ball for those two years, you know, after a big win, it, it's such a great feeling. And knowing that maybe you were a little part of it in some way, maybe you called some pitches or did something. I miss that a lot, you know? But broadcasting has, has given me an opportunity, first of all, to be pretty much a full-time dad and definitely a full-time grandpa. And for that, I'll always be grateful. - You guys cover different teams every week. You're not following one club all year with ESPN. Obviously, you're very in tune with the league. But that's tough. I mean, your prep work, and you were talking about prep work earlier, you got different clubs every game, potentially. How does that go into how you prepare for a game? - You know, it is a lot of preparing, but I think the exciting part about it is that every week, as you know, whether it be Sunday night, Monday, or Wednesday, with ESPN, they do the best they can to pick the best game. So, there's a lot of times where, you know, we're not going up there with two teams that are going to lose 100 games that year. There are a lot of great stories to be told about that. And, and, and I love the game. I can't believe that they pay me. You know where our seats are. I know where your seat is. - Yeah. - I mean, it's hard to believe we're getting paid-- - Yeah. Yeah. - …to have that location to, to watch a game and, and maybe talk about it a little bit. Broadcasting works so much better for me than what coaching or managing would've done. And I still get calls. I get people wanting me to do something or interview for this or that, but I just, for me, that window is closed and, and uh, it gives me an opportunity to be the best grandpa that I can be. - Speaking of watching the game, what's it like watching a Cubs game with Theo in his box? What's the atmosphere like? - Well, a lot of it depends on… - Depending on the day. - …on the outcome. - Yeah. - He's competitive. - Yeah. - He might be as competitive as anybody that I've ever known. There's a lot of stuff that goes on in there. The wheels are always turning. Yeah, they're watching the game and, and, and, obviously, it's the priority to, to win that game, but there's a lot of other things that go into what might help them the next day. - You're back in Chicago for a weekend like this or for a game; where's must-stop dinner spot, drink before dinner afterwards? Where do you like to hit? Where do you have to go? - There's three. There's three. I'm going to go to Murphy's Bleachers bar, um, every single time that I'm in Chicago. Um, Jim Murphy who owned Murphy's and all of that; former Chicago cop who's, uh, cop who's passed away. He basically has given me the apartment above Murphy's. So, the parties there have, have been absolutely, uh, unreal. And you're invited. I'm telling you, it's, it's… After every game that I'm here, it's, it's amazing. It's a who's who of who's ever been. Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman, Vedder, Huey Lewis. I mean, they've all. They've all been there. Murphy's is a definite stop. I'm always going to have dinner at Chicago Cut. And I think the one thing that most people don't know… I owe Harry Caray so much. Harry Caray many times said that I was his favorite all-time player. Uh, when Harry did a big benefit in Las Vegas, Jack Buck was the MC, uh, Willie May, Stan Musial, all these great comedians were there. I was the only active player that, that Harry asked to speak. And since we lost Harry, there's never been a time where I've been in Chicago where I don't go into a Harry Caray's -- there's lots of them now -- - Yeah. - ...and have a Budweiser. - That's awesome. - Um, just kinda my way of saying thanks and reconnect… And I always walk out with a smile because I'm thinking about something that, that I might have done, or said, or, you know, at one point where I had been with Harry. - That's awesome. I was watching, on the Golf channel, I think yesterday Jon Lester was playing with the LPGA and the pro AM. You play competitive tournaments like that at all golf-wise? - I did. - Yeah. I did a lot of those early. I do a lot of charity events now. I love golf. But, again, you know, when you play in a tournament like that, most of the time… You know, Bill Murray's invited me to Pebble Beach a lot of that time, the Lake Tahoe thing, Barkley's, they've always tried to get me up there. But you're talking about four, or five, sometimes a full week of time put into that. Especially Pebble Beach, I just don't have that time. You know, I'm not interested in playing golf six straight days… - Yeah. - … You know, unless, of course, I'm playing with Ryder. I mean… - Yeah… - … I have no problem doing that. - Competitive golf is a different animal too, I mean it's… I know you compete at the highest level in baseball, but competitive golf, you are on an island by yourself. - You know? I, I… You're so true. And, and, and you're absolutely correct in what you say there. And I think back, back when I was playing, American Airlines had a golf tournament where they paired a football player and a, and a, and a baseball player together with executives. And if you were the best at, you know, football and baseball player, that, the first day you played with the worst executive. So, they tried to balance it out. And I'll never forget the first year that I'm there, I'm playing, uh, um, I can't… Lynn Dickey. - Okay. - I'm playing with quarterback, Lynn Dickey, whose a great golfer. And you have to use four tee shots of everybody's shot. And on the final day, we're leading and on the last hole, um, it's on a par three. I was the only one that had to hit a tee ball. And I, I laid the sod over and hit it in the water and we ended up losing by one shot. And I thought, "You know what? That's never going to happen again." - Yeah. - I never got nervous like that in baseball, but it got me. I mean, it got me to that moment or whatever. Well, the following year, I came back with Eddie Payton, uh, Walter's brother, who's another good golfer and we won the whole thing. Uh, but you're exactly right. There's, there's… There's a competitiveness of that and there's a confidence that, uh, you know, you can only have if you've done a lot of it. And I had not played a lot of golf going into that first tournament. But you're right. When you look at that leaderboard and you see your name, it's, it's a, it's a different experience than maybe being at Yankee Stadium and they're booing you, that's… - Yeah. - That's not a problem at all. But, uh, you know, grabbing that club and being able to find a fairway or green, uh, that can be difficult. - It's tough. Pitchers and catchers know their way around the golf course, I've come to find out. What, why, why is that? - You know, I'm not that guy - No? - And Greg Maddux will be the guy to tell you that… - Yeah. - I had a pretty good baseball swing. - Mm-hmm. - You might've heard of a guy named Tom Seaver. - Mm-hmm. - Uh, I happened to hit a home run off him. Um, hit a few… Hit a couple of hit one in the playoffs. I could hit a little bit. Uh, I have probably, next to Charles Barkley, probably the worst golf swing you've ever… But I have… I mean, my legal name is Rick Putcliffe. I mean, I can, I can get it in the hole. It's just sometimes it takes me a little bit too long to get to the green. - Yeah. - But… I enjoy it. You know, golf, to me, is nothing more than a couple of hours outdoors with a couple of people I like. - Mm-hmm. - If you look at it in any other, oh, any other way than that, I just… I think you're making a mistake, particularly when… You know, it's not my career. - Yeah. - It's not, it's not what I do. It's not what I ever needed to do. - That's cool. Rick, thank you for doing this. It's been a pleasure. - All right. - We look forward to seeing you in the park this year. - Yeah, it sounds great. - [Belleson] To see more of my interviews with former Cubs, be sure to subscribe to our Cubs YouTube page.


MLB career

Early years and Rookie of the Year

Sutcliffe's first full season in the majors was 1979.[1] He won 17 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and was the first of four consecutive Rookies of the Year for the Dodgers from 1979–1982 (Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuela, and Steve Sax were the others).[1][2] While Sutcliffe did not appear on the Dodgers' roster for their 1981 World Series championship run, he was awarded a World Series ring by the team.[3] The Dodgers traded Sutcliffe to the Cleveland Indians for Jorge Orta, a journeyman outfielder on December 9, 1981.[4]

Chicago Cubs

Sutcliffe won 31 games over the course of the next two seasons for Cleveland and led the American League in earned run average in 1982. In mid-1984, Cleveland traded a struggling Sutcliffe to the Chicago Cubs for Mel Hall and Joe Carter. Sutcliffe rebounded and won 16 games for the Cubs while losing only one, helping them to the division championship. On October 2, 1984, he started the first game of the NLCS against the San Diego Padres, giving up two hits and no runs, not only gaining the victory, but also hitting a home run in the third inning.[5] Five days later, Sutcliffe pitched the final game of the series at Jack Murphy Stadium, but posted the loss after giving up four runs in the seventh inning.[6]

Rick won the Cy Young Award with a unanimous vote, beating out Dwight Gooden and Bruce Sutter.[7] He also finished fourth in the league MVP voting. When he re-signed with the Cubs as a free agent the following year, his contract briefly made him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball.

Sutcliffe started the 1985 season strong, going 5-3 in his first eight starts, including two complete game shutouts. A hamstring pull on May 19, limited his starts for the year, followed by a series of arm injuries limited Sutcliffe's effectiveness over the next two seasons. In 1987, he bounced back to win 18 games and finished second in the league's Cy Young voting to Steve Bedrosian despite playing for a last-place Cubs team which also featured National League Most Valuable Player Andre Dawson. He also was presented 1987's Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a Major League player who demonstrates sportsmanship and community involvement.

On July 29, 1988 in Philadelphia, Rick achieved one of baseball's rarest feats, especially for a pitcher, by stealing home plate during an 8-3 win over the Phillies, in which he also notched the victory. In 1989, Sutcliffe won 16 games and made his final All-Star appearance, where he was managed once again by Tommy Lasorda. He also helped the Cubs to another division title, but the Cubs lost to the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs.

Later years

Recurring arm injuries caused Sutcliffe to miss most of the 1990 and 1991 seasons and the Cubs did not offer him a contract for the next season. Signing with the Baltimore Orioles, Sutcliffe went 16–15 and 10–10 in 1992 and 1993, starting the first game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He ended his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1994, going 6-4 in an injury-plagued season. He retired with a career record of 171–139, with an ERA of 4.08. He holds the unique distinction of having won each of the following league awards, once each, and each in a different season: Rookie of the Year (1979), Cy Young Award (1984), ERA leader (1982), and wins leader (1987).


After his retirement from baseball, Sutcliffe was the pitching coach for the Idaho Falls Chukars (the "Idaho Falls Padres" at the time) in 1996 and 1997. After his coaching stint in Idaho Falls, Sutcliffe became a color commentator for the San Diego Padres on Channel 4 San Diego (1998–2004), ESPN (1998–present) and DirecTV/MLB International (1997–2002 and since 2010), as well as a minor-league pitching coach in the San Diego Padres system for a couple of seasons. He also broadcasts the World Series and either the ALCS or NLCS for MLB International, where he is teamed with Gary Thorne. In previous years he has also appeared with Dave O'Brien.

On March 13, 2008, Sutcliffe was diagnosed with "curable and maintainable" colon cancer. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments in his hometown of Kansas City during the spring of 2008 and returned to work with ESPN on May 21, 2008. He continues to maintain a positive attitude and credits this to his faith, family encouragement, friends and support from fans. He also is motivational speaker for Fellowship of Christian Athletes.


  1. ^ a b "Biography Rick Sutcliffe". The Baseball Page. Archived from the original on October 11, 2015. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  2. ^ "Dodgers Steve Sax named top rookie". Times-News (Hendersonville, North Carolina). November 23, 1982.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Chris Jaffe (December 9, 2011). "30th anniversary: Dodgers trade Sutcliffe away". The Hardball Times.
  5. ^ Chicago Cubs 13, San Diego Padres 0,, Retrieved on June 6, 2007.
  6. ^ San Diego Padres 6, Chicago Cubs 3, ,Retrieved on June 6, 2007.
  7. ^ 1984 National League Cy Young,, Referenced on June 6, 2007.

See also

External links

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